LETTING GO

When have you struggled with letting go?

What triggered your struggle with letting go?

Was it a person, place, or thing that you were letting go?

Recently I assisted my parents in their second process of downsizing.

The first downsizing occurred only four years prior from a ranch house that had been my childhood home. They had lived there at least fifty years.

This time they were downsizing from a duplex to a handicapped apartment.

Letting go of space, paper, furniture, timing, control, and so on, were the operative words for everyone involved.

Stress and tension were present due to fond memories of things that were forced into the category of letting go.

How does this relate to Bible Study?

Our verse for today:

ESV  Genesis 21:12 But God said to Abraham, “Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named.

Why was God telling Abraham to not be displeased?

Sarah had just observed Ishmael mocking Isaac. Remember Ishmael is what we would consider a teenager today while Isaac was still a toddler when this occurred.

Sarah’s response is to request the following:

NET  Genesis 21:10 So she said to Abraham, “Banishthat slave woman and her son, for the son of that slave woman will not be an heir along with my son Isaac!”

Abraham’s immediate response to Sarah’s request is:

NET  Genesis 21:11 Sarah’s demand displeased Abraham greatly because Ishmael was his son.

But then God sides with Sarah!

ESV  Genesis 21:12 But God said to Abraham, “Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named.

What reason does God give for siding with Sarah’s demand?

Technically, Ishmael is Abraham’s firstborn son. Culturally, Ishmael would be considered the legal heir of Abraham’s estate.

But both Sarah and God are reminding Abraham of God’s previous instructions about both Ishmael and Isaac:

ESV  Genesis 17:19 God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac.I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him.

ESV  Genesis 17:20 As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation.

ESV  Genesis 17:21 But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year.”

ESV  Genesis 21:2 And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him.

Abraham who has grown fond of his firstborn son is now being told by God to listen to Sarah’s instructions to cast out or banish Ishmael.

Ironically, scripture mentions that Abraham (Abram) had listened to Sarah (Sarai) about fathering Ishmael with Hagar. (See Gen 16:2).

Now, fourteen years later, God tells Abraham to listen to Sarah about casting Ishmael and Hagar from their presence.

Reflection Questions for Letting Go:

  1. When forced to let go of someone or something what motivates you to follow through?
  2. From God’s perspective, why must Ishmael be sent away?
  3. According to Paul, what truth about God’s covenant is illustrated by Sarah and Hagar, Isaac and Ishmael (see Gal 4:21-31; Rom 9:6-9).
  4. When has loss made God more real to you?
  5. What about yourself are you most attached to?
  6. Practice letting go by given away something you are attached to (money, time, possessions). Notice the feelings that arise in you when you think of giving something away. Spend time talking to God about how attached you are to your things.
  7. Where in your life do you need Christ’s spirit of detachment? Where do you need grace to pray “Not my will but yours be done”? Talk to God about what it means to you to pray this sort of prayer. How does praying this prayer make the reality of Jesus’ life touch your own?

The Message Mark 8:34-35 Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?

Blessings,

Barbara Lynn

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